2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open preview
PGA Tour

2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open preview

Smylie Kaufman hoists the trophy after winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open golf tournament Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

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This week, the PGA Tour's wrap-around season continues as we arrive in Las Vegas for the 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Previously known by various titles, the event has grown in popularity amongst both the viewing public and the players alike making it a necessity for the early-season scramblers who aim to get off to a strong start this year.

The fifth FedEx Cup scoring event of 2016-17 brings together a 144 strong field who will go toe-to-toe for 500 first-place FedEx Cup points and the $1.2 million winner's share of the $6.6 million purse on offer to our winner.



Course: TPC Summerlin

TPC Summerlin is a par-71, 7,235-yard test within the Summerlin area situated west of Central Las Vegas. Opened in 1991, the course was designed by Bobby Weed and Pete Dye and is a par 72 for the members. The third hole, typically a par 5, is a par 4 for this event.

Set naturally within the rugged Nevada desert terrain, TPC Summerlin is a visually impressive cours. With tough green undulation and elevation changes aplenty, it does require that each player be on their game. Low scores are commonplace, however, and the winning score typically gets close to 20 under par.

Field

Last year's winner, Smylie Kaufman, put together a scintillating final-round 61 to come from seven shots back and pick up his first win on Tour in only his fifth start. Interestingly, it was the 10th time in the last 14 years that a player managed to secure their maiden victory by winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

As well as the defending champion there are several other note-worthies in the field. Three members of Team USA's victorious Ryder Cup squad -- Ryan Moore, J.B. Holmes and 2016 PGA champion Jimmy Walker -- are in the field, while Roberto Castro will be looking to continue the fine form which saw him make it all the way to East Lake for the season-ending Tour Championship in September.

With the Turkish Airlines Open heralding the commencement of the European Tour's season-ending Final Series in the Race to Dubai this week, European players feature rather sparsely within the declared field. Italy’s Francesco Molinari will be teeing it up at TPC Summerlin after a strong showing in Shanghai for the WGC–HSBC Champions event last time out. If he were to continue that solid play and pick up a win here, it would surprise very few.

Predictions

It’s always difficult to choose a winner at this time of year. Of the Ryder Cup boys, Jimmy Walker is the one synonymous with early season form. That said, Ryan Moore is hard to ignore, and the man whose putt won the Ryder Cup for U.S.A. has got to be in the mix in his college hometown.

Brendan Steele is another who is used to having his game on point at this time of year and a win in Napa, Calif., last month is testament to that.

As mentioned, however, a first-time winner is most likely given the history of the championship. Who will emerge this week?

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